Accessories are my favourite aspect of fashion. You can completely change the entire look and mood of an outfit by simply adding a statement scarf, bag or piece of jewellery. For that reason, I love when designers can create a piece that is eye-catching and vibrant in its own right but can also be incorporated into your outfit and not overwhelm it. Rita White is one such designer.
We are delighted to have the talented Irish Designer on Floralesque today. Rita is not just a designer, she is also an artist, illustrator and photographer and I think that having so many skills when it comes to design really elevates her work. She has a first class honours degree in Art & Design, Textiles from GMIT, Galway, and has since gone on to establish her own brand.
She creates the most beautiful and vibrant silk scarves, what drew me to them was the actual patterns on them. She bases them on her own drawings and I especially love the patterns that incorporate Birds and Butterflies. But my top pick certainly has to be Friday Shoes Silk Scarf! It is no wonder that she is a finalist in the 2018 Irish Fashion Innovation Awards.
Your work is simply beautiful, have you always had an artistic flair?
Thank you, I’m not sure about always having an artistic flair but I do love all types of art. I have worked as a Nurse for many years because it was a practical career but my passion was always in drawing, making or altering clothes and generally following fashion.
The patterns on your pieces are just beautiful and I love the vibrant colours, where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration like most designers and artists from the world around me. I love walks on Howth Hill, Dollymount Beach and all the awesome places in Dublin and Galway. I draw from memory and my imagination. I love birds and a lot of my drawings unintentionally become birds and butterflies that then become characters with their own style, such as the birds that wear shoes. Another drawing I have is from people watching in Dublin while I was sitting having a coffee.
All the different people from school kids with heavy bags to dog walkers, sensible shoe people, cool people, tired people and the dressed up girls on a day out. Some of the other drawings come about as I draw as a form of relaxation and unconsciously draw what may be on my mind in a sort of an abstract way. For instance, when I was moving, I kept drawing lines and a pretty little house right in the middle of a big city.
Has your relationship with fashion changed since you are now a designer?
Yes, I have always loved fashion as an art and as a shopper. Since becoming a designer, I find myself recognising real quality in fabrics, design and colour. I know what goes into making something really unique and of high quality and I recognize and appreciate it more in fashion now when I see it. I also recognise what makes a garment or accessory sustainable and unique, such as quality fabrics, design and something that is uniquely different.
What drew you to work with Silk as your main textile? Are there any other textiles that you would like to work with in the future?
I think everyone loves silk, the luxurious feel and the shimmer of colour. The fact that its a sustainable natural fibre adds to its appeal. It looks so good as a scarf. I always admired Hermes scarves and clothing and the silk used was an unmistakably huge element to their success. I needed a fabric that could reflect the colours I wanted and I have always admired silk as luxury precious fabric. I already have used other fabrics such as cotton/silk which is great for colour also, it too is very soft and is a natural fibre and lovely to wear. I have also tried wool/modal for rectangular scarves but the appeal always returns to the silk.
Congratulations on being a finalist in the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards 2018, the Awards are just a fantastic platform for both established and emerging designers. Are you looking forward to the night?
I certainly am, I was so delighted to be nominated. There are fabulous designers in the award. I’m delighted to be part of it. Its such a great opportunity and platform to show one’s product. I hope I get it right in my choice of scarves for the night. We had a preview night in Galway recently which was hosted by Galway Now. It was great to meet other designers and the organisers and it felt great to see my scarf being modelled in such a great platform.
My daughter Laura is coming home from NewYork for it and I’m very excited.
Although I am sure hard to choose – what has been your brand highlight or proudest moment to date?
My highlight at this stage is the nomination for the award. I also love when someone gives me feedback about how much they love my scarves and that they are very recognisable as being quiet different and being uniquely from RitaHeart.ie.
I love when I am asked to collaborate or do a unique piece for someone. I was also delighted to see my scarf being worn by Margaret Molloy who established ‘wearing Irish’.
In this online world that so many of us seem to now occupy, I think that being visible online is so important in this digital age, how important is it to your business to have that online space?
Absolutely, I agree, online is where a lot of people are now doing a lot of their shopping, I am continuously updating my website and making my online shop more accessible. As a small business, its crucial to have social media advertising and links to an online shop that is e-commerce friendly and safe to use. Ireland is catching up with the fast-growing online International market.
As an Irish Designer, what did you find most challenging when you were just starting?
I suppose, realizing the amount of time that one has to spend to promote the brand and the product, using social media and networking with relevant people. It is also a very exciting part of starting as I have met so many helpful and likeminded people along the way. Designing is often a very solo occupation until you finally feel ready to put it out here which is the hard part. It is the most challenging. The world has to see what you have to offer and that takes time, money and patience.
What one tip/piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a career in fashion? Is there anything that you wish someone had told you?
To persist is the main thing. If you have something that you truly love and feel is unique and should be seen and appreciated don’t be afraid to go for it. Also, don’t be put off by people who may not like your style or way of doing things, there are many different styles and it’s important to find who you would like your customer to be as you can’t please everyone. There is plenty of room for everyone. Focus on your customer and listen to feedback from those who are your customers, etc., but stick to what you truly believe is your authentic best. One also has to decide what image their brand portrays and who their target customer is.
Where would you like to see the brand going in the next five years?
I would love to expand into clothing, dresses etc., I already do some ties and pocket squares. Id love to be in the larger retail outlets and get more international recognition, especially from America.
And lastly a very important question…. Lyons or Barrys tea? And favourite dipping biscuit?
I’m not a big tea drinking, It has to be real coffee, strong and early in the morning! No biscuits anymore, I’m afraid I’m an all or nothing person so the packet has to stay closed and in the shop!
A massive thank you to Rita for doing the interview, I love the patterns on her scarves and her artistic talent clearly shines through. I would highly recommend that you take a look at Rita’s website as her pieces really shine and you can also learn more about the designer as well. You can also follow along with her journey on Facebook, Twitter and my Favourite Instagram. Best of luck to Rita at the Irish Fashion Innovation Awards and I am really looking forward to seeing her pieces on the catwalk.
All images kindly provided for use by the designer – Photography Credit: Veronika Hausmann
If you enjoyed this interview in the ‘Floralesque Meets’ Series, then you can click here to read more exciting interviews with designers, creators, artists, photographers, entrepreneurs and more – enjoy meeting the makers!